Shavuoth and Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Unification Day)
We have just passed a momentous 70th anniversary, marking the establishment of the State of Israel, and will be observing Yom Yerushalayim on May 13th this year. I thought it important to comment on these precious milestones.
Our Torah instructs that one must count the 49 days of the Omer, from Passover to Shavuot, beginning from the morrow of the Shabbat. Therein we find a controversy in the Talmud. Do we count the 49 days on the Sabbath after the Passover or the day after Passover? Our Suducean opponents contended that if it says Shabbat, the Torah means the “creation” day of Shabbat (Saturday). This would mean a different number of days each year from Pesach to Shavuoth, depending on what day Saturday falls! "No," said our forebears, the Pharisees. Shabbat can mean a festival, which also requires a cessation from labor, albeit from a few less labors. The counting begins on the day after Pesach.
Rabbi Levi Isaac of Berdichev adds to this argument by saying something a bit more philosophically deep. Shabbat may indicate a day which brings Shevet, a return to a sense of radical amazement (to use Heschel’s phrase) about God. In the wake of a profound event, one’s religious mindset gains an enhanced spiritual understanding of God as being present among us. That is shevet, “a return to a sense of amazement and faith” from our normal distracted sense of Divinity.
In the creation story, the first Shabbat after creation implanted this sense of radical amazement into the very first humans; a keen sense of wonder at the power and existence of God. Likewise, the event of the Exodus at Pesach imprinted in our People a profound sense of God in our midst. This, too, is a Shabbat in that it engenders a sense of Divine awe. The sefira, the counting to Shavuoth, is meant to be a cultivation of that wonder and certainty of God to a point wherein we will naturally collectively receive the Torah anew each year.
We have, in contemporary Jewish life, an event which compares to the Exodus of Egypt and even, in a way, to the fashioning of a brave new Jewish world having been fashioned for us before our very eyes. And in this profound event, shouldn't we also feel that sense of radical amazement and sense that the presence of God is vital and operative, every bit as much as did our ancestors at a time of their transforming moments? Look at the survival and flourishing of our precious Medinath Israel.
For all the flaws and shortcomings the world sees in her, she is a democracy that allows free expression of all religions. She has a Supreme Court and legal system that always aims at the highest standards. She has an army as mighty, constrained and commanded by a civilian government, and that values tohar Haneshek–the restraint and concern for civilian life as paramount. After seven wars, the immigration of millions, terrorism, and a foe that refuses to find a solution in compromise–a psychic and physical toll–Israel stands before us as a nation of phenomenal strength, the 11th happiest in world, with a healthy upward youth trend demographically. She struggles with new issues that Jews have not struggled with for millennia, such as issues of Statecraft, security and the ethics of power. Some Israeli policies don’t make the world happy and many times don’t make most Israelis happy. But her presence as a bulwark and a stable democratic ally of the U.S., and her capacity to provide a counterweight to Iran expansionist actions, is a great comfort to the U.S. and now the Sunni "moderate" nations. She has expanded her overtures and ties with African nations. She offers the world advancements in medicine and technology, telecommunications, agriculture, agronomy, urban ecology, mass transportation, and disaster relief. Those that take her up on these advances are glad they have.
And as far as the Jewish world is concerned, miracles abound. Her doors are open to Jews in need everywhere. No longer are Jews stuck when anti-Semitism endangers communities. She doesn’t stop there, making the case each year, as military jets fly over Auschwitz, that Israel’s army is the “Jewish Peoples' Army” and will come to their rescue wherever they are threatened. She has absorbed millions of people and educated them. She is at the center of Jewish creativity, music, art and religious studies. Is Israel perfect? Far from it, as no society is without flaw. She needs more pluralism when it comes to acceptance of liberal Judaism and more enlightened thinking about Jews in the Diaspora. Her government ought not to be in the business of legitimizing one stream of Judaism over another. But her development and evolution from a fledgling state to modern state in the blink of an eye (what is seventy years, after all?) with a robust army and strong economy, from a few hundred thousand to 6 million Jews, is nothing short of miraculous and points to a guiding providential hand.
Now, as we count the Omer and as we mark yet another Yom Yerushalayim marking the transformative victory of the '67 War, may we, in pondering this, experience a “Shevet”–a sense of radical amazement in God’s hand in our lives. May Israel ever remain for us that spiritual gift. We can choose not to live there as our primary residence, but we should make room for her in our hearts. Tony Bennett left his heart in San Francisco, but we might follow the emotions of Judah Halevi who had his heart in the east, in the land of Israel. May her existence ever lend us profound insight into the protecting and enduring presence of God. And may we strive to give back to her concretely in love, in economic support, in watchfulness against those who tarnish her and seek her demise, in lauding her manifold positives, and in visiting her. And to this may we say, Amen.
|Executive Vice President||Frank Brecher|
|Building Administration Vice President||Karen Tyll|
|Community Relations Vice President||Bart Ayers|
|Fundraising Vice President||open|
|House Administration Vice President||open|
|Membership Vice President||Linda Pollack (acting)|
|Ritual Vice President||Mark Infald|
|Youth Vice President||Allan Berman|
|Education Vice President||Bobbi Weinstein|
|Finance Vice President||Michael Glatman|
|Financial Secretary||Brian Kain|
|Corresponding Secretary||Jill Kirschbaum|
|Recording Secretary||Robin Kain|
|Past President||Frank Brecher|
|Sisterhood President||Ilene Glatman|
|Men's Club President||Scott Keiser|
The East Northport Jewish Center Men's Club is a social organization open to all male members of the synagogue. Its mission is to involve Jewish men in Jewish life and to promote friendship and comaraderie in that community by providing opportunities for socializing, networking and supporting synagogue activities.Read More
2017-2018 Woman of Achievement Beth Krantz, with family and friends
The East Northport Jewish Center Sisterhood is an active arm of the synagogue, made up of a dynamic, vibrant group of women of all ages, who together work toward providing rich and varied programs of educational, cultural and social value for the congregation. Through these efforts, we reinforce our bond with Israel and Jews worldwide.Read More
The ENJC Youth Group's activities combine a wide variety of monthly events created for different age groups. Anyone looking for fun, friends, social or cultural events, community service or leadership opportunities will find them in our youth lounge.Read More
Families in hundreds of communities across the United States and Canada are exploring the timeless core values of Judaism through books and music. PJ Library is a Jewish Family Engagement program implemented on a local level throughout North America, which mails free, high quality Jewish children's literature and music to families on a monthly basis. If you are raising Jewish children from age six months through eight years, you are welcome to enroll.Read More